4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Posts Tagged ‘NYRR

NYRR Switching to Chronotrack DTag?

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I recieved my Marathon Handbook in the mail this past week, and noticed that one of the ‘changes for 2009’ is the switch from ChampionChip to the Chronotrack DTag timing system.  Then, this weekend, I was trying to do some planning for upcoming races, and noticed that many (all?) of the upcoming 2009 races are also using DTag.  The DTag system is a disposible RFID device that also attaches to your shoe and provides timing for races.  In fact, this was the system used when I ran the Austin Marathon earlier this year.

Hadn’t seen any official announcements on this, but wonder if this is a permanent switch.  Apparently, it was already used earlier this year in the Mother’s Day Race.  Personally, I have owned my ChampionChip since the 2000 NYC Marathon, and really like being able to stick it on my shoe and not worry about it during races.  It is also great that I could use it at other non-NYRR events also using the ChampionChip system.  But, on the flip side, I’m sure most people don’t own their chips and have to then deal with the hassle of leaving the chip behind after the race and getting charged if it gets lost.

Will reserve further judgement until I try the new system myself and see how it goes.  As long as the timing is accurate, and the system is not difficult to use, then perhaps this change is for the best?


Written by SCL

August 9, 2009 at 9:11 pm

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Brooklyn Half Marathon Nearing Capacity

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NYRR announced that the Brooklyn Half Marathon, on May 30, is nearing capacity, and registration will soon close.  So, if you want to run and are not signed up, go quickly! 

My original impression was that it was just the Central Park races that were capped, not all races.  Perhaps I mis-understood?  Good to know…

UPDATE 5/22/09: Well, NYRR is announcing again that the Brooklyn Half Marathon is nearing capacity.  I’ve also read recently that they expect upwards of 10,000 for the race.  Guess the original announcement on May 8 was a mistake, and it is nice to see that they did expand the field for this non Central Park race.  So, if you still have an interest, but have not signed up, do so quickly!

Written by SCL

May 8, 2009 at 9:47 am

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NYRR Grand Prix

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I’m a bit behind with my running news, but a few weeks ago I received a package from NYRR recognizing my completion of the Half Marathon Grand Prix for 2008.  Last year was the first time I completed the full Grand Prix, finishing all five of the NYRR half marathons.  Do I get bonus points for also running the New York City Half Marathon?

Included was a nice letter, a patch, a drawstring backpack (perfect for wet and dirty running clothes after a good workout) and a finishers certificate.  The finishers certificate listed all of the races with my finishing times.  The only problem – some of the times on the certificate are mixed up and don’t quite match with the race they are listed next to, sort of like a homework assignments my 7 year old might bring home from school: Match the race on the left with the finishing time on the right!

Seriously though, I’m proud of the effort, especially since I will not be repeating this year as I already missed Bronx.

Written by SCL

March 4, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Posted in NYRR, running

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Getting my bike and swim on

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Time to start focusing on the swim and bike portions of the triathlon as I start training for the New York City Triathlon, coming up late July.

Took a couple of big steps today.  First, took my bike into Metro Bikes to get a tune up.  In addition to basic free tune up I get from purchasing my bike there, I’m also getting the more extensive ‘drivetrain’ tune up.  I want them to do a good cleaning of my chain and a good thorough check of everything else.  I’m also getting the handlebars retaped.  One of these days, it will warm up and I’ll start getting some rides in.  I think we change the clocks next weekend, which means we’ll start getting daylight till 7pm – can’t wait.

I also went to the gym tonight and went in the pool for the first time in about 8 months.  I am a really bad swimmer, and I’m essentially starting from the very beginning.  Did about 18 pool lengths in a variety of bad forms, but trying to work on breathing, which is my big weak spot.

Will be running in the Coogan’s 5k race tomorrow morning.  Forecast is for rain, sleet or snow, so we’ll see what happens.  This is a very fast 5k course due to the hills, especially the downhill in the last half mile.  I’ve set PR’s the last 2 times running the course.  I was hoping for dry conditions so that I can attempt to finish in 25 minutes.  My PR is about 26 minutes.  I just hope the weather is good enough that they don’t turn it into a fun run.  I want to use this to bring down my NYRR corral pace time, which is currently 8:14.

Wow, that session in the pool really wiped me out.  Need to get to bed!

Written by SCL

February 28, 2009 at 10:36 pm

Posted in bike, gym, swim

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What happened to Brooklyn?

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Thanks to Run Dangerously, I see that the Brooklyn Half Marathon date is again up in the air for 2009.  I, for one, would love to see it moved back to March, or even April, where it belongs.  I’ve already bemoaned the original May 30 date.  Who knows what’s going on.

On a related note, the Coney Island boardwalk, one of the biggest hazards a NYRR racer will face during the year, is getting a facelift in places.

Written by SCL

February 6, 2009 at 3:53 pm

Posted in NYRR, running

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Manhattan Half Marathon Race Report

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Word of the day was COLD.  No way around it.  14 degrees at the start and not much higher at the finish.  The CNN clock said 14 degrees at the start, still said 14 degrees one hour later at the 6 mile mark, and then was up to 15 degrees two hours later at the 12 mile mark.  After the race, the WeatherBug on my phone said it was 18 degrees.  Going back to 1999 (that is how far back my detailed records go), this was the 2nd coldest race I’ve ever run in.

My plan was to run the full race, and then another 6 mile loop of the park afterwards, for 19 total miles.  Since I’d be running longer than the half marathon, I layered up more than normal.  Ski hat and earmuffs for the head, three shirts and a heavy jacket for the upper body, tights and sweats on the legs, and 2 pairs of socks under my sneakers.

I drove in my car which allowed me to stay warm for a bit longer than if I had taken the subway over.  Was parked before 6:30 to get a good spot by the 72nd St entrance, and made 2 quick trips to the port-o-potties.  By 7:30 got in my race gear and headed for the start.  The start area was very crowded and all the corrals seemed very full.  It seems people did a good job of getting to the corrals on time.  I was in the 4000’s, further back than normal.  Considering that the last corral is 6000, it is a bit sad that with an 8:14 pace time, I was placed way back in the 5th out of 7 groups.  Maybe this is because the half marathons bring out a faster crowd than the shorter races?  Also frustrating was that the person checking numbers at the corral was not really checking and there were a ton of 5000 numbered people that incorrectly got through into my group.

After a rendition of the national anthem, we were off.  Due to the crowds, it took forever for me to cross the start line.  Well, not forever, but much longer than usual.  Took 4:03 to pass the start line.  Typically I can get through the start line in less than 1 minute.  The start was still pretty organized without a crazy amount of passing or being passed, so I guess the corral system is still working.  In the early miles, kept a nice steady slowish pace.  I was warm enough with all the layers, but felt completely bogged down and heavy from them.  Nice push up Cat Hill, Harlem Hill and the rolling hills on the west side.  My slowest mile of them was mile 4, which is up the Harlem Hill.  I also made a quick bathroom stop at the end of loop 1, so that mile was slightly slower.  Water was a little tough because of the large chunks of ice in the cup.  Gatorade was much better.  I guess because it freezes slower, those cubs just had little pieces of ice, sort of like ice shavings.

  • 1 – 9:32
  • 2 – 9:39
  • 3 – 9:25
  • 4 – 9:54
  • 5 – 9:40
  • 6- 10:12

2nd loop was another story altogether.    Started well by pushing nicely up Cat Hill, and was looking forward to the next water stop.  Unfortunately, there was very little water to be had.  The volunteers were doing the best they could to fill cups, and there was a mass of runners trying to get the cups.  I just decided to skip the stop and keep going.  Most of the going is flat or downhill into the next water stop anyway.  In hindsight that was a mistake.  Somehow started feeling a little lightheaded after that, I think from the layers and the cold and lack of water.  Since I was still planning another loop of the park afterwards, I took a long walk break leading into the next water stop at the bottom of Harlem Hill, where there was to be Gatorade.  Unfortunately, there was no Gatorade at all, just half frozen cups of water.  I took 2 cups of water and a Gu.  The water was so cold, it made my insides somehow feel colder and I started getting brain freezes!  Got myself going again and charged up Harlem Hill pretty well.  It was around this point, though, that I lost all will to do another loop of the park afterwards.  With the extra layers, slight lightheadedness, very limited and frozen water on the course, and no street vendors to buy from on the way, I was really concerned about pushing ahead with the extra loop.  That decided, I figured I could turn up the pace for the last couple of miles of the race and call it a day after 13.1 miles.  So, ended up with a very strong last 2 miles, and finished in 2:08:50.

  • 7 – 9:38
  • 8 – 9:41
  • 9 – 9:47
  • 10 – 12:13
  • 11 – 9:47
  • 12 – 9:25
  • 13 – 9:04
  • 13.1 -0:48
  • In the end, I was disappointed I did not get all my miles in.  This is potentially really bad because the Austin Marathon is in just 3 weeks and while I’ve put in a lot of overall miles, I have not had quality long runs.  Since I didn’t push too hard, I’ll at least be recovered enough to do a speed workout on Tuesday night, and I’ll try to make sure my other workouts are on bridges or hills.  On the other hand, I was really happy with my pacing, which was very consistent – almost every mile (with the exception of my bathroom break, walk, and final mile) was between 9:25 and 9:54.  I’d like to be at 9:30 pace for the first half of the Austin Marathon, to give me a good cushion in the 2nd half to break 4:30.

    I want to know how dangerous it really is to not have all the layers on.  I’m sure I would have fared much better without my outer heavy layer, but I was afraid I’d be too cold.  Some runners had shorts on, and some seemed to only have a single shirt layer.  Is that healthy?  There was even 1 volunteer (or just a crazy bystander?) at the 102nd St cutoff on the East Side that had no gloves, no hat and a very light jacket on.  I could not believe that he was still there the 2nd time around.  How did he stand outside for 2+ hours.  Anyway, I’d love to be able to go out in fewer layers, but I’m afraid of getting sick, or some sort of frostbite from long exposure.  I can only hope that it will warm a little so I can get a good long run in on Saturday, and then potentially one more a week before the marathon.  Of course, this year, when running a Feb marathon, would be the year when the temperatures in Jan would be 4.5 degrees below normal (according to the New York Times).

    I did feel a great sense of accomplishment getting out in the cold conditions and getting a quality workout done.  Congrats to all the people that raced and finished.  It was not easy!

    Written by SCL

    January 26, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Fred Lebow 5 Mile Race Report

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    The Fred Lebow 5 mile race is one of my favorite road races of the year.  It honors a man that I respect and look up to – he inspired me in the first few years as I was getting started.  Also, the race is traditionally the first scored race on the calendar, in early January, normally just after I’ve made a resolution to run!  This race was first held in 1995, as Fred passed away in late 1994.  I participated in that first race, finishing in 46:36.  In fact, I’ve run it 11 out of the 15 times it has been held.  Last year, I set my 5 mile PR at 41:59.  With all the running and improvements I’ve had over the last year, my goal was to beat that time.

    The weather was definitely on the cold side.  24 degrees when I left my apartment, but no wind.  Very nice conditions considering snow was predicted earlier in the week.  For winter races, number pick up is at the NYRR office, and the t-shirt pick up is at the race site.  As a result, I almost forgot to pick up my shirt!  Not that I would be missing much, as their “XL” size runs small, and is too small for me.  Usually, I get a large and save it for my dad, which is what I eventually remembered to do this time.

    I had to remind myself not to overeat for this race.  Of the 10 races I ran last year, 8 were 9.3 miles or longer, with 6 half marathons and 1 full.  For long races, I need to fuel up real good.  But, for a 5 mile race, it is better to eat a little lighter.  In the end, ate 1 plain roll, 3 oatmeal cookies and half a Cliff bar.  Also had about 10 ounces of Gatorade.

    In terms of my goal time, as I said, I wanted to PR, which would be better than 41:59, which I did last year, 8:24 pace.  Also, I wanted to beat my fastest pace-per-mile in a race, which I set at the Salsa Blues and Shamrock 5K in 2007, an 8:14 pace.  Which brings me to a point about race pace.  NYRR seeds all runners in corrals based on their fastest race pace.  Last year, I was paced at 8:14 all year, which typically (maybe even always?) put me in the 3000 corral.  I would love to get this pace down to move up to the 2000 corral, but have been unable to do so.  I was suprised to find that in 2009, I’m still seeded at the 8:14 pace.  I figured this would be reset annually.  Let’s assume for a moment that I didn’t run for a year and entered this race.  I’d have no shot at an 8:14 pace, but would still have been seeded that way.  Don’t know what NYRR plans are on this, but I think the pace-per-mile seeding should be reset each year and should be at your fastest race in the prior calendar year.  I think that is pretty fair.

    Anyway, stepping off the soapbox, and up to the start line!

    Before the race, I did my little shin stretches, as I was afraid of my shins causing a problem after my debacle in Florida 2 weeks ago.  Otherwise, I felt ready to go.  Layered up in 3 shirts, 2 pants, 2 gloves, 1 pair of socks and 1 hat.  Before the start, it seemed that there were not that many people in the corral at all – it seems that many people were late in lining up.  I really don’t understand this.  The corral system has been used for a year now, and people should know that they need to line up at least 5 minutes before, otherwise they need to go to the back of the line.  I guess people don’t care?  My race preparation says last bathroom stop 30 minutes before the race, bag drop off 20 minutes before the race, and at the start corral 15 minutes before.  Otherwise, you get caught up in the crowds.  For me, it is important to get lined up in my corral so that I don’ t have to deal with passing slower people during the race.

    Anyway, at 8am, we were off!  Felt good in the first mile.  Was nicely keeping up with the group.  While there were people passing my in the first mile, I also passed many more people than I expected.  I suspect this is due to what I talked about above, where people have a strong fastest pace-per-mile, but are out of shape and have no chance to deliver on the pace.  I knew that my goal pace per mile was 8:24 – that is what I need to PR.  First mile came in at 8:21.  Perfect, considering I was not pushing hard, and there were hills in the second half of the mile.  The 5 mile course is the ‘lower loop’ of Central Park.  This means we go across the 102nd St transverse and then all the way around the bottom of the park and up the east side (counter clockwise), missing the tough hills at the north end of the park.  

    The uphills on the west side end early in mile 2, and the 2nd mile is mostly then downhill.  So, I was not suprised when I finished mile 2 in 8:09.  So far, so good.  Except, on the downhill at about 1.5 miles, I could feel that my right shin was tight.  Not in pain, but definitely tight and at risk of being a problem.  Good thing I did my stretches before the start.  For me, when my shins are acting up, it is worst on downhills, and uphills help to loosen the muscle up.   Unfortunately, in miles 2 and 3, there are very few uphills to be found.  So, just gritted my teeth, and hoped for the best.  

    I did hold back a slight bit in mile 3, for two reasons.  First, didn’t want to blow out my shin on the downhill, and wanted to stay in control.  Second, with more than 2 miles left in the race, including cat hill, and wanting to run those 2 miles hard, I thought it prudent to hold back a little.  Mile 3 was completed in 8:27.   I was still ahead of PR pace!  Mile 3 is also the magical distance where I usually find my shin starts to loosen up.  When I have shin pain, if it stays under control to mile 3, then the muscle will loosen up and not be a problem.  Thankfully, that was the case today.  

    Working on mile 4, I felt like I was cooking.  Pace felt hard, but not all out race pace.  I started getting bothered by one guy in particular that was being really annoying about passing me.  He’d pass me, and then slow down.  I hate that – if you are going to pass someone, then really do it.  So, over the course of 1/4 mile, he passed me a couple of times and I passed him a couple of times.  But, I had my secret weapon in my pocket.  My strategy usually is to push up the hills and then coast on the downhills.  I think this is the best strategy for conserving energy.  Use minimal energy on the downhills, and push the uphill so that the time spent on the hard uphill is less.  As a result, I typically get passed on the downhills and then pass a bunch of people on the uphills.  I was smug in knowing that I was going to blow by him on cat hill and then not see him pass me again, as after cat hill was over, I was going to turn it up for the last mile.  Finished mile 4 in 8:18.  This turned out to be the case…

    At this point, I knew I had the PR in hand.  I felt I would only pick up the pace in the last mile, and even an 8:45 mile would be enough.  However, I had the very odd sensation that I might puke.  Weird, as I’ve never felt that before in a race.  Not sure exactly why that happened, but I held back a little in the first half of the 5th mile.  The last half mile of the race is virtually all downhill, and very fast.  Picked up the pace for the last half mile, passed a bunch of people, and ended with a 8:05 mile, for a total of 41:24, beating my PR by 35 seconds!  My pace-per-mile was 8:16, so just short of the 8:14 I was shooting for.  My finish was 1151 out of 3224

    Anyway, had a wonderful run.  Great way to start the year.  With all the half marathons and other long distance races, I really miss the short distance race where you can really go almost all out for the entire distance.  Now that I have that out of my system, I need to focus on long runs between now and the Austin Marathon, quickly coming on 2/15.  Since I screwed up my last long run, I’m a little behind the 8 ball and MUST get one in next weekend.

    Written by SCL

    January 11, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Volunteer policy change for 2009 New York City Marathon

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    Anyone with an interest in running the New York City Marathon already knows that for automatic entry, if you are a NYRR member, you need to run 9 qualifying races, plus volunteer once during the year.

    NYRR has announced that they will extend the volunteer period to the end of January for qualification for the 2009 New York City Marathon.  This is a nice way to accomodate all the people that waited till the last minute to take care of this requirement.

    But, beware, to those of you that were thinking about volunteering early in 2009 to get it out of the way for the 2010 race.  Volunteering in January will only count towards the 2009 marathon, NOT the 2010 marathon.

    “We have extended the opportunity for runners to meet their 9+1 Program volunteer obligation for guaranteed entry to the ING New York City Marathon 2009! During the month of January, volunteers may sign up for any newly posted opportunity to receive credit toward their 2009 entry. Please note that no January volunteer activity will count toward 2010 marathon guaranteed entry eligibility; these opportunities will begin in February. As always, participants must run all nine races in 2009.”

    You’ve been warned…

    Written by SCL

    December 17, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Posted in NYRR, running

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